tv Book Discussion CSPAN November 8, 2014 11:00pm-12:01am EST
back richard brookhiser to the historical society and is renowned author and senior editor of "national review" bledsoe is a columnist for american history. before he served as a historian and curator for our spectacular institution for alexander hamilton also us receiver of the george washington alexander hamilton and james madison. his most recent book which was released last week as "founder's son" a life of abraham lincoln" and already getting wonderful reviews. i'd like to ask before i
invite him to the stage anything that makes noise like a cell phone is switched off now pleased when meet to welcome richard brookhiser to the stage. [applause] >> thanks. i n being adjusted. they did not need this in the 19th century. it is always a pleasure and an honor to be here at the historical society. just my publicist, basic books has done a terrific job they are publishing and well and i could not be happier. roger has done so much for history and particularly was very generous to support the
publicity of this book. and lou gave me crucial early a vice when i was trying to find my way ever 15,000 books published now 15,001. and also my friend and agent over 20 years this is our tenth book together restarted with washington and andrew johnson next. we will try to do better than that. abraham lincoln was preoccupied with the founding fathers. 1854 when the missouri compromise was repealed and
he was roused is he had never been before the end of the civil war. his most famous expression and devotion to the founders was the "gettysburg address" which he began with fourscore and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation conceived in liberty but three years before that in another great speech here in new york at cooper union, he kicked off a presidential campaign and referred to the founders again as our fathers marked slavery led it so it can be marked as an evil not to be extended but speak as though they act upon it and six
years before that with this speech that kicked off his political career in peoria. and again references the founding fathers. trailing in the dust to spirit the revolution led this return slavery to the position of our fathers gave us. and these examples could be multiplied dozens of times. linkedin looks to the founding fathers for inspiration and for guidance and uses them to persuade his fellow americans. tonight i want to briefly look at where the interest came from and what the founding fathers gave him. the three most important
were george washington thomas paine and thomas jefferson. but i also want to touch on to other fathers. thomas lincoln his actual father will never rises with dissatisfaction from his own father. born in virginia thomas lincoln 1778 moved to kentucky and there he had his family daughter sarah, abraham and a little
boy thomas that only live three days. thomas linkedin was a subsistence farmer and a carpenter to depict tem and as a ne'er-do-well but historians and biographers have revised that thomas lincoln never went broke never left bad that he did have some problem with land titles in kentucky but everything he did this just a nightmare that is one of the reasons why they moved to indiana and illinois. he is also the trustee of the baptist church in the
fall the times he was in school and it was one year but he wanted to learn how to read these are useful skills that they wanted the their sons to have them. but they never truly got along. and thomas lincoln wanted his son to read but he could not understand abraham's passion for reading. linda the explanation of the world.
to better understand the life they were living but this was something that was just beyond thomas. when he was running for president he said his father learned barely to write his own name. i learned how to write you could have learned how to write to you wanted to but you never did. that is the symbol of the distance between father and son. there were some things he did get from his father. end in the frontier conditions this was very useful it meant he would not be bullied when you were hazed by the locals to do a challenge you could beat him
or hold your own so that was one important resemblance. and another was that thomas lincoln was temper it. he was not a the drinker per this was almost unheard of is the country of alcoholics that to what ordinary people but form to -- performed astonishing. neither him nor his son drink but thomas lincoln was a great storyteller. two of abraham's cousins both testified to this end john hanks said he was as good as a storyteller but one said he was better. so this must of been a
quality that the suns saw in his father and learn from. but he never in knowledge the resemblances when he was 21 he went to live on his own there were some strange letters between him and his father the father dies in 1851 abraham named horse after him and one of the lessons that 10 years later when he is about to leave for washington to be inaugurated he notes there is no stone or monument and says he will have to arrange for one to be put up and he never did. that was the relationship between the father and the sun. we never get everything we want from a parent's it is
not possible but when there is a gap between expectations and what they give us. but for early 19th century but they with the founding fathers the generation with one revolution who had written a constitution. and when lincoln was of little boy growing up thomas jefferson still had one in the white house then followed by eight years of james madison then followed by eight years of james monroe the last of the founder presidents but by the time abraham is in his 20s the founding fathers are dying of.
so the only way we could do encounter them is through books the first was george washington end he met him in the life of george washington. this is one of the first pair are fees that he knew washington very slightly. mother is no such parish but he claimed that connection and he was of a book dealer he realized it would be a good seller washington and dies then there is a biography in 1800.
he makes changes the 18 '08 version that abraham would read. and it is still in print you can still buy it on the amazon. and the stories are terrific then the proof is he still remember some of them. the famous is georgiana the cherry tree the little boys slings sit around and accident lee chops the bark of the prize is cherry tree and the father said you did this and he said i cannot tell a lie. i did it. then the father thinks him for being honest. lesson learned but that is not what impressed abraham
about the life because he said when pressed in 1961. and traveled 3/7 states on the way to washington and made appearances in six of them and showing the flag as the country was falling apart. and there he talked about the battle of trenton. that is what most impressed him he said i suspected there must have been something more important that those men fought for that was of value to all men
and what he meant by that was liberty as he draws a parallel between the revolution of 1776 and the trouble he is about to face in 1961. reading his life of washington with a description of the delaware but then when they are captured they treat them well so they changed sides. but the most important moment as washington and the
troops go across the delaware introduces a figure then this is the figure of liberty and says she has been driven from her home in europe and america is her last refuge but her enemies have followed her with soldiers and armies who will defend her? only there very ragged band of men but all i ask is that you remember where you are about to fight for. and in 1861 lincoln remembered when he told the state senate you know, how impressions stick with us
throughout our lives. it was the all male senate but that is who he was addressing. so george washington for abraham was a champion of liberty. the second founding father abraham encounters in his 20s is thomas paine a great journalist of the american revolution i would say one of the greatest journalists who ever lived. common sense was the great polemic the american increases on the eve of the battle of trenton. these and the times that try men's souls and abraham read all those works they were reprinted but also with the
age of reason that was a ferocious attack on religion and he had written this in france and thrown in prison while in jail that he is not the neediest i believe in one god no more but argues all religions is a falsehood to terrify and enslave man. but most of the fire is for christianity to write that anti-ideal book that technique is to do take the bible for any contradiction or consistency to make relentless one of them. so lincoln reads the book
and like many 20 roles thinks this is great explains everything jesus was of bastard who could believe in the virgin birth involved agrees with the crucifixion. and abraham was so impressed with this when he was the postmaster in his early 20s when he tried to figure out what he would do with his wife also to pick up some money and the postmaster in those days did not work out of the post office they kept the desk in someone's store where they sorted the mail and read every berlioz's newspapers so he tells people about his new religious views this will
show that jesus was a legitimate. but then to take the manuscript from lincoln because he was already interested in politics and mr. hill knew that attacking christianity was from the 80s in the 1930's -- 1830's but then learned to be discreet and over time to become very close mouth. but one thing he learned lifelong was how do you use humor to when serious
arguments? agreed or not, that pain is billion to make serious points humorously. that to say she was made pregnant by a head go stand in angell said so but would she be believed? and then takes it very literally and then when he came to master it he already knew how to be funny but to make serious points and one of the jokes he told over and over that they would end
if he like slavery must like black people and one to sleep with them and he would say just because they don't want a black woman for us live does not mean i need her for a wife. just leave her alone. and always got a laugh. and leaving her alone leaving her to be free. that is what he had a with his encounter from thomas paine.
it is a declaration of independence and retreats from the earlier opinions as the age. it was of jefferson that wrote the declaration of independence in 1776 and he would use this over and over as an expression of the republican party principles that should guide americans as they confronted the question of slavery's expansion. in 1854 he called the declaration of independence that anchor of republicans
that is the sheet anchor is the toughest anchor as ship has is what they put down in a storm and the storm was beginning so he called the declaration hour she to anchor. he gave that definition of a free society. he could not go but he sent a letter with of forecast into a revolutionary document that should be valid for all kinds and all ages.
before i started with the "gettysburg address" and then stars fourscore and seven years ago to the declaration. to which this country is dedicated now that "gettysburg address" was due dedicates a cemetery there were a lot filled during the civil war. lincoln was not a warrior serving in the black hawk war when he was a young man he saw some men that were scalped and he knew his own grandfather was saved from an indian attack when he was of little boy when he had
shot and killed abraham lincoln and his son thomas his father was saved by the indian from where this happened. and also he lost the mother and us we heart to diseases. but the civil war was on common. and could not be insulated from it. but elmer was one of the law students and accompanied to his first inauguration he was in the army and was killed in the union to take alexandria firm rebels early in the spring of 1861.
at the end edward baker had named one of the suns after him he was killed in the battle and abraham was described at the funeral beeping like a child. also in 1861 a man asked abraham for his help with an illinois regiment he was a clerk in bloomington and eleanor i. the reason he needed the president's help is he lost an arm and a farming accident but he intervened for hem and in 1862 was killed with the run-up to the siege of vicksburg. he also saw lot of wounded.
a reporter who knew him in illinois and goes to california comes back to washington and accompanied linkedin -- abraham and in one of these visits going down the line ahead of them was a charitable woman who was handing out literature to wounded soldiers and one man takes the pamphlet and it looks at it and set it down laughing. but then the soldier says she gave me a pamphlet on singing and dancing and both of my legs are shot off.
believe in predestination. he left the church that one of the phrases he had lee said even before you were born the motives of all your actions are determined because that cause had a cause. so everybody is cast into a web of determination by the civil war you are trapped in such a web. so lincoln thinks to himself to make a note and talks about it with a couple of people and things to himself died rules of world remember he was never any fiesta but god rules the world and rules everything and the war
happens and the war continues he could stop it at any moment both sides pray to him they cannot be answered what does god want in continuing this war? so lincoln beat his head against this problem for years. saw his best attempt at this solution is the second inaugural address march of 1865 the war is not over yet but it looks as if it is sending an this is what he tells americans in the state paper if we shall suppose american slavery is one of
those offenses that in front of god that having continued to the appointed time this to both north and south as to whom it came should read discern that departure that fine attributes several ways ascribing to him? if he will set it continue by the 250 years suctorial until every drop of blood shall be paved by another as was said 3,000 years ago that must be said the judgments are true.
soldiers not a lot of slaves and wisconsin but they have to die by the thousands you can see how far think it has traveled paid revolted by the notion that he would except the sacrifice of his son but now he says god requires the death of americans to pay for the national sin of slavery but that is not where it tends with that last sentence with malice to nine and charity for all with firmness lettuce strive to finish some work we are in to care for him for his widow and
his orphan to do all which may achieve and cherish among ourselves through all nations. when i came to write about that i noticed all those words and phrases are to sell ovals. strive on, finnish, on, finnish, duvall, achieve , a cherished. it is just like walking. after you have locked so long and still so far to go and this is what he gave it to america one month before he died this is what he gives to us now.
thank you very much. i will take your questions. [applause] you should know to ask a question there are microphones in the aisles so come up to a microphone and state your name and please remember only ask one question no speeches with a rising inflection is. [laughter] if you read and dash read the debates they were rooter then they would say hit him again are sometimes they would say the white man is a disgrace to light people but we have to be more polite.
>> he got his hatred of slavery from his father and he mentioned other inspiration from jefferson and washington so how did he coincide that? >> certainly his father may be a source that is probably one of the reasons he left kentucky because surveying was just a conflicting survey and then he has to go to court because of rival claims and he wanted to get to the northwest territory because the federal government had surveyed that and guaranteed them. there is also the possibility he did not want to compete with those
farmers so that was an incentive to leave. but i noticed in one of his primers called the kentucky primer one of the questions the kids were given who has more cause to complain the indian or the slave? it is written 1790 is an academic exercise for school kids but there it was and of course, abraham took two trips to new orleans the only place in the deep south he ever went in people speculated what did he see there? there is lots of free black people and slave and slave markets being sold and
inspected how is the body of that kid? some people would be thrilled by that. we do have some accounts that abraham was appalled but there are problems with those accounts one is by a cousin who stopped in st. louis said he may have told him this later but he did not see it firsthand the with the founding fathers those who were slave owners include washington and jefferson he always said they found slavery existing in the country of which they were born and the policy they wished to follow is what we would now call containment. it is my word that to cut
off the expansion in one direction by forbidding in the northwest territory in cut off supply with the other by stipulating in the constitution in the slave trade could be ended in 18 '08 and it was. he also made the point although the constitution gives guarantees to slavery it is is this fugitive slaves should be returned to their owners and eight account in the house of representatives but never uses the words as slaves or slavery the notes were published in 1840 and madison says has a slave owner we should not use this
language in the constitution. and abraham hall later say so that when slavery has disappeared there should be no sign it had ever existed. so this is his view of the founding fathers they hope to wither away but they took certain concrete steps to cause it to ultimately wither away but america's trade from this program letting it expand across the southwest with the repeal of the misery compromise as a possibility the go to kansas and nebraska and rarely changes abraham's life and changes politics but he says this is the program so this
is how he tries to reconcile that point. >> what is the name of this lee hart he lost to the disease? >> the first was an rutledge and there is the civil war over every point of his biography and she is one of the contending subjects scholars say no-no known there was nothing there. but people who knew him than some say he was really torn up by half of them say he did not seem to be affected by that is a stupid reason
that everybody shows everyone what they think your show the people who are closest some wouldn't notice it but numbers of people said he was distressed we had to hide the razor's he talked about killing himself and it seems like one thing i learned in writing the book only have to do is look get a picture but i was not aware of the death of his depression it is a serious lifelong curses that he bore and after an rummaged died the thought that torments him that rain will fall on the grave it rained for and
have street months. but it is said depressive thought because it falls everywhere on us us, houses, you cannot stop it but if you are depressed you think it is falling on me and i cannot stand it. so that is the name of the young woman in that is what i believe he experienced. >> i am a member of the abraham lincoln association my question to you is which has the greatest toll on abraham lincoln -- abraham's conduct and thinking the declaration or the constitution? >> abraham rights and interesting memo to himself when he is president-elect.
he never used these exact words in the speech but sometimes he may incorporate them later or just leave them there but this time he uses a biblical phrase and they're chronically it was just used by his old friend alexander stephens his colleague from '01 term in congress that was urging abraham to condemn the raid and stevens would become the vice president of the confederacy of to the last minute was unionist and once abraham to make gestures to the south to say zero words spoken buy you now is like
gold and silver he already read that but there it is so later he uses the phrase again and says the apple is cold. -- gold. and to use that phrase over and over again to say the declaration was more important than the constitution. the metaphor, it's jewelery that it means jewelery so the picture of silver that protects the apple of goldman and preserves its
hot autumn dash said is how we keep it so that neither be changed or altered. he is the man that holds these things. son people want to do chalk the declaration is an openly disdained or they read interpret it doesn't mean negro's are savage indians that is what stephen douglas said a man means man. the continental congress knew with there were signing off on. but there are also people people, did not like the constitution these are the abolitionist that said it is a deal with the devil
because of slavery and abraham always says i am the man who stands with both. so in answer to the question yes a declaration is more important but it is equally important in abraham would never entangled them. >> i would go with the rule of law. >> he puts a lot out there but i think he would uphold both of them. >> out is abraham successful without a real education? >> he was self educated he went to these schoolhouses to end kentucky before he
was seven. still lots of people were better than he was even in his own cabinet. others were much more we read he loved shakespeare he never read all his plays but what he did read he read pretty seriously and deeply he is an autodidact and teaches himself his second law partner said his general knowledge was not great but his third law partner said he always does the their route said he would master all the details for the case that is the way the mind works and the most moving
testimony as mother died when he was nine and father married again and stepmother was remarkable woman who had a remarkable step son and her name was sarah bush lincoln she was interviewed that was what you was called an oral history and he knew this friend of his was a remarkable man he steady demand observe him after he was killed decided to write a biography then he realized it is tough i never heard about people knew him well or a little. but maybe the most moving is
he looks up sarah bush again her husband is dead her son has been killed he goes to meet your the things it is too late that she is gone i cannot get anything but then he talks about the old days then she gives a terrific interview that says when it abraham was a boy and did not understand what with these people talking about? then he would write it down to rephrase it and keep doing it entellus was fixed in his mind i he had to do figure things out and that
is the way he continued to educate himself. >> thank you. i was just wondering if you turned up any literature of my great great grandfather and a friend of abraham's. >> no. i am sarah. [laughter] the low-key in the indexes of wing kin biographies. look at the lincoln papers their online. there ought to be a way to chase them down so gimmicky was the director of public schools in springfield. >> that is my best advice.
>> can i ask you a what if question? what if he had not been assassinated? with the south and reconstruction? >> johnson was a bad pick pick, was that he? and what is astonishing is two presidents had died already and abraham supported both zachary taylor died in 1850 and he campaigned for both. and harrison's vice president john tyler and ended all of his policies he was the democrat put on the ticket who just kicked over everything so his choice of
johnson was i'd i know why he did it he did not think he would win his reelection and looking for a way to broaden the space johnson was a brave and patriotic man the only senator to stay loyal but it a small man in a lot of ways but the fact lincoln's murder makes that comparison ultimately impossible because his work was half-dozen as if the die hard shot to a commission in
1783 the man had won the war or who had seized power during the war but the presidency was lost to us and he would have had a hellacious term it would have been extremely stressful. he is a very good politician even republicans to dislike them. and there was a lot of resemblance i could have done this yesterday. the yet never a successful rebellion and was masterful
to divide and conquer and had genuine friendships. the last speech he gives urges the southern states participate in the ratification of the 13th amendment that certain black people be allowed to vote. and the former rebels in of very farsighted spirit. never underestimate john wilkes booth. he struck a blow.